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Sunshine on Leith (2013)

Two soldiers return home to Edinburgh to resume their romantic and family lives.



(stage play), (screenplay)
1 win & 10 nominations. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
John Spence ...
Paul McCole ...
Emily-Jane Boyle ...
Emma Hartley-Miller ...
Elaine M. Ellis ...
Morag (as Elaine Mackenzie Ellis)
Gayle Telfer Stevens ...


Sunshine on Leith is based on the sensational stage hit of the same name, featuring music by pop-folk band The Proclaimers. The film follows the stories of Davy and Ally, who have to re-learn how to live life in Edinburgh after coming home from serving in Afghanistan. Both struggle to learn to live a life outside the army and to deal with the everyday struggles of family, jobs and relationships. Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


When it happens... there's nothing like it!

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG for some suggestive and thematic material, language and brief violence | See all certifications »




Release Date:

4 October 2013 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

Amanece en Edimburgo  »

Filming Locations:


Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?


Neither of the main pub scenes in the movie were filmed in either Edinburgh or Leith. "It's Over and Done With" is filmed in Glasgow's Griffin Bar and "Let's Get Married" is also filmed in Glasgow - in the Saracen's Head, a traditional Celtic supporters' bar close to Celtic Park. See more »


When Ally drops off Liz at the bus stop on The Shore, she picks up the 42 bus. The 42 bus doesn't stop there. See more »

Crazy Credits

The initial credits show the main characters in short outtakes from the film. The order is Peter Mullan, Jane Horrocks, George Mackay, Antonia Thomas, Freya Mavor, Kevin Guthrie, Jason Flemyng, Paul Brannigan, Sara Vickers, Michael Beat (as Michael 'Cuban' Keat) and John Spence (as 'Wee' John Spence'). This is followed by a listing of the major crew (director, etc,) on a background of the city of Leith in sunshine. Then the credits revert to the traditional scrolling form, starting with the cast listed in order of appearance. See more »


Letter From America
Written by Charlie Reid and Craig Reid
Performed by Freya Mavor, Jane Horrocks, Peter Mullan, Kevin Guthrie and George MacKay
See more »

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User Reviews

A soul-warmer for cold evenings.
29 September 2013 | by See all my reviews

I'm not a fan of musicals. I'm not quite sure why I should enjoy watching people sing their conversations instead of having a straightforward, impassioned talk. Sunshine on Leith isn't that kind of musical.

Sunshine on Leith is cheesy, predictable and I had a fab time watching it! Adapted for the big screen, from his own stage play, by Stephen Greenhorn, Sunshine on Leith will be known by many as the Scottish comedy rammed to the gills with The Proclaimers' songs. The twins even enjoy a brief stroll in front of the camera and I found myself having a private game of Which Proclaimers' song comes next? in the cinema.

Three soldiers return home to Scotland after a tour of duty and try to adapt to life on civvy street. While Davy (George Mackay) goes home to mum, Jean (Jane Horricks), dad, Rab (Peter Mullan), and sister, Liz (Freya Mavor), his best friend Ally (Kevin Guthrie), who is dating Liz, stays with his sister's family. On a celebratory night out, Davy hooks up with his sister's friend, Yvonne (Antonia Thomas) and over the next few months we watch as three relationships (Jean & Rab, Ally & Liz and Davy & Yvonne) evolve and deal with the challenges life throws at them.

I'll be honest (as always), Sunshine on Leith is not a great film. There are occasional moments of ropey acting, it is difficult not to grimace at some of the circumstances, it all flows and finishes entirely too easily, there are far too many avenues hinted at but never explored, I'm pretty sure it's not a fair representation of Scotland and it's far from being an accurate portrayal of squaddies returning from warzones.

In terms of feel good films, it's out of step with the likes of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and lacks the gritty charm of Ken Loach's little seen but superb The Angels' Share. There is an entire subplot starring the latter's Paul Brannigan as Ronnie, the third of the trio of soldiers, that is hinted at but not fully explored, as if time was of the essence and director Dexter Fletcher felt the need to excise him for pace, and it leaves us wondering why he was left in the film at all.

But, gripes aside, this is an entertaining, inoffensive, thoroughly enjoyable experience that doesn't need detailed analysis. Take it as it is, lap it up, feel good about yourself and then move on.

Peter Mullan and Jane Horrocks, though not a couple one would automatically think to put together, play perfectly against each other as the couple nearing their silver wedding anniversary. Knowing the musical talent that brought Horrocks to the fore, it is an almost agonizing wait for her to be given her chance to sing but you'll be satisfied to know she has a few moments in the limelight. Though Mullan may not be a natural singer, he handles his numbers very well and there is no danger of him 'doing' a Peirce Brosnan (in Mamma Mia!) or Russell Crowe (in Les Misérables).

The central trio of MacKay, Guthrie and Mavor gel well, hold the attention, engage us and bounce well off each other, but the jaw-on-the-floor performer here is Antonia Thomas. She has been sorely missing from my life since she moved on from the dark, twisted and utterly fantastic Misfits and it's good to see her back on screen after such an absence. She performs well and is the equal of her peers here but when she sings… Wow!

There are more than sufficient high points in Sunshine on Leith to forgive all the missed opportunities and false starts. Given the choice, I would embrace another twenty doses of Sunshine on Leith than a single, torturous repeat experience of Les Misérables.

It was an eight star film when I emerged that settled comfortably into a six star once the euphoria had subsided. Sweet, fun, very enjoyable indeed, Sunshine on Leith is sure to be an absolutely huge hit with the 'only go to the cinema once a year' brigade. When the nights grow dark and cold this is a very good reason to venture out and warm your soul.

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